It’s normal to do it alone, the feint-and-jab
of forgetting. I believe in only what I can recite
from memory, like the ninety-nine names
for thirst: soft-hell, root-torn-from-soil, rain-
on-a-nipple, and so on. My cat is loyal as any drug, mewing
his meek salaam while Laika blinks down from the stars
like a little arrow caught in a cloud. A lot of good
good does anyone. I’ll tell you now, I’ll fail
your polygraph, spoil any sweet you put in front me.
Even my mother’s plastic fruit is rotting quietly
in her kitchen, where she waltzes daily around a jar of my baby teeth.
If you spin in one room for a lifetime,
everything really does start to slide into sense.
Every fear I’ve ever had has become
a different fear. I’ve wasted so much time counting
poker chips in hospital parking lots, pressing
my ear to the moral high ground. The voices
I heard there sounded so solemn, wet
as the inside of an egg. Deathless heartbeat-counting Creator, how
did you ever expect me to do anything
besides what I have done?
© Kaveh Akbar